Saturday, 19 September 2009

Dial M For Murder - West Yorkshire Playhouse

Dial M for Murder
Writer: Frederick Knott
Director: Lucy Bailey
Reviewer: Sara Jackson

This is the original stage play written by Frederick Knott in 1952, which was adapted for screen and then famously directed by Alfred Hitchcock in the film version starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly.

I have to admit to having not seen the film so I had no idea of the plot which is always useful when watching a thriller. I was utterly gripped from start to finish of the piece. It's intense excitement leave he audience on the edge of it's seat and even gasping with surprise at points were the plot takes and unexpected turn. Even though the audience is a witness to the murder, which is played out on stage with perfect timing, you are kept wondering weather the truth will be found out by Inspector Hubbard (Des McAleer) and will they find out before there is a second murder or the wrong person is executed.

Director Lucy Bailey takes a classic approach to the text and allows the play to do the work for itself. Her use of dark lighting which changes with the mood and the steady pace with which the piece unfolds is perfectly timed and gives a suspense, which at times is almost unbearable. But just enough comic relief is given to stop the piece being over played without being farcical.
Set in one room, the audiences perspective is constantly altered as the set continually revolves. This disorientates and adds to the disturbing nature of the piece. The back wall is represented by gauze so the audience can see the comings and goings outside the apartment. This also keeps the audience one step ahead of the characters in the piece and adds to the suspense.

Aislin McGuckin as Sheila Wendice and Nick Fletcher as Max Halliday give steady performances throughout, but the stand out performance of the piece goes to Richard Lintern as Tony Wendice. He is suitable cold and calculated throughout the whole piece, and is so convincing in his performance that even the audience begins to believe his lies.

I would recommend this piece to anybody, even if you are not a regular theatre goer as it is completely accessible and a joy to watch.
Photos: Manuel Harlan
Runs until 3rd October 2009
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